Quinnipiac River Watershed Association
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QRWA Protests Plans for Auto Exchange

10/28/1996

Dear Commissioners:

I am speaking tonight on behalf of the Quinnipiac River Watershed Association to explain why we do not support construction of the proposed facility at this site, limiting myself to watershed concerns. The Purpose Section of the Planning and Zoning Regulations, Section 1.2 includes the following: "to promote health and the general welfare ", "to prevent the overcrowding of land", and "protect subsurface water supplies". Likewise in Section 7.5 B, on special permit objectives, the commission is asked to take into consideration the "health, safety, and welfare of the public" and instructed that "the use shall be in scale, and compatible, with surrounding uses, building, streets, and open spaces."

Since the drainage from the proposed facility eventually reaches a heavily used public fishing area at North Farms Reservoir, water quality issues do have public health as well as aquatic habitat implications. Sediment and fertilizer from farming operations do cause excess algal growth in the reservoir. However, urban runoff from pavement is a very different type of pollution, and unfortunately it includes pollutants like heavy metals, which move up the food chain, sometimes reaching dangerous concentrations in larger fish. We believe that an industrial facility with a smaller area of impervious area (4 to 6 acres), generating less urban runoff, would be much more appropriate for this site. Is this kind of facility what was intended for this neighborhood? Perhaps the zoning regulations should be amended to be more specific for this district. This auto auction project has about 11 acres of impervious surface which occupy most of the non-wetland area on the site. Our serious concerns about design features of the stormwater renovation system, have been addressed to the IWWC, and I won't elaborate on them here, but the bottom line is that even the best design systems have relatively low removal rates (about 40 to 60%) for certain soluble pollutants, like zinc, and that biofilter efficiency drops significantly in winter. We question the wisdom of putting a facility generating that much stormwater runoff just upstream of the reservoir. In this case the scale of the proposed facility generates public health concerns.

We believe the concerns of neighbors about their wells are very well founded; paving that much area will reduce groundwater recharge from rain in the vicinity of the project, and movement of stormwater through porous gravel deposits on the east side of the site may have the potential for groundwater contamination.

This intense an industrial use also does not appear to be compatible with the wildlife value of the open space areas north of the reservoir. These are a complex of ponds, wet meadow, and wooded wetland, diverse and rich in wildlife. Wildlife species include interesting and uncommon species, sensitive to disturbance - like the Spotted Turtle, which are vulnerable to being run over, and the shy green heron, which are part of the natural heritage value of the town of Wallingford, and contribute to the quality of life. We disagree with the applicant's statement in the Advertisement in the Record-Journal this morning - that wildlife habitat will be significantly enhanced by the project.

The proposed facility is intended to auction two to three year old cars. However, what guarantee is there that there will not be a future change, to a business auctioning older cars with higher rates of fluid release? We urge you to carefully consider potential impacts on public health, ground water quality, and quality of life, as you evaluate this application.

Sincerely,

Sigrun N. Gadwa
QRWA Executive Director


2/20/1997
Miller Farms Application
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